United States District Court, E.D. California
February 27, 2015
PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET, INC., Plaintiff,
ADP DEALER SERVICES, INC., Defendant.
ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.
Defendant has filed an "Unopposed Request" to seal a document that it has already filed on the public docket of this court, unsealed and un-redacted. Defendant asserts that the document contains "pricing information" which it says is "confidential." However, defendant publicly filed this document on two separate occasions. Defendant first filed the document as Exhibit B (ECF No. 8-1), to its Answer to the original complaint, and then again a month later, as Exhibit B (ECF No. 15-1), to its Answer to the First Amended Complaint.
In general, there must be, at a minimum, "good cause" for overriding the "strong presumption" in favor of public access to judicial records. Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006). While there might have been good cause to seal the document at issue before it was made public - it contains confidential business information, and the defendant requested that it be sealed - defendant has not offered sufficient good cause to withdraw the document from the public record.
While the court is sympathetic to defendant's plight, it does not remove publicly available documents from the public's view without a sufficient showing that sealing is necessary and proper. Defendant cites Dayton v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 2014 WL 5797172 (E.D. Cal. 2014) (Nunley, J.), for the proposition that a document may be sealed after it has been publicly filed. In that case, plaintiff requested that a publicly filed document bearing her date of birth be redacted, and the court granted the request. However, the court's local rules required that "[d]ates of birth" be redacted from publicly filed documents, and that "only the year" should be shown. E.D. Cal. R. 140(a)(iv). Accordingly, the court ordered the document refiled "with the appropriate redactions so that the Court may update the docket and seal the original filing." Dayton, 2014 WL 5797172, at *8.
Defendant has identified no rule, statute, case or other authority requiring that the document it filed must be sealed or redacted after the fact. To the contrary, the cases addressing this issue have denied requests to seal documents where they were already publicly filed, or where the information contained in the documents is already in the public domain. See Level 3 Communications, LLC v. Limelight Networks, Inc., 611 F.Supp.2d 572 (E.D. Va. 2009) (declining to seal documents offered in a public trial, and providing a thorough discussion of the issue).
The court does not find defendant's request to be frivolous, however, and accordingly will deny the request without prejudice. Defendant may, if it wishes, renew its request if it can direct the court's attention to a statute, rule or other authority requiring the document to be sealed or redacted.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's request to seal (ECF No. 20), is DENIED without prejudice.